Part 8 Answering objections to the full humanity of the unborn

Part 7 gave a brief look at the scientific evidence supporting the unborn is a distinct, living, whole human being.  Next I would like to take on specific objections to the scientific evidence for the full humanity of the unborn.  Again I will utilize answers from Scott Klusendorf[1], who is the president of Life Training Institute.

  • Objection: “How can you say the embryo is a distinct, whole human being when twinning can occur up to 14 days after conception?

Reply: How does it follow that because an entity may split (or even recombine) that it wasn’t a whole living organism prior to the split?  If you cut a flatworm in two you get two flatworms.  Does it follow that prior to the split there was no flatworm?[2]

  • Objection: “Sperm and egg are alive and contain DNA.  So do bodily (somatic) cells.  Do I commit mass murder if I pluck cells from my hand?”

Reply: This objection confuses “parts” and “wholes.”  Unlike bodily cells (or even sperm and egg) which are merely part of a larger human organism, the embryo is already a distinct, living, whole human being.

  • Objection: “Most conceived embryos spontaneously abort.”

Reply: How does this fact refute the pro-life position that embryos are human beings?  Many Third-World countries have high infant mortality rates.  Does it follow that those infants who die early were never whole human beings?  Moreover, how does it follow that because nature may spontaneously abort an embryo that I may deliberately kill one?  Admittedly, these miscarriages are tragic events.  But as journalist Andrew Sullivan points out, just because earthquakes happen doesn’t mean massacres are justified.[3]

  • Objection: “Women don’t grieve miscarriages like they do the death of a newborn.”

Reply: Perhaps so, but how does it follow that the embryo is not human?  I would grieve the loss of my own son far more than the thousands who die daily in 3rd world countries.  Does it follow that 3rd World children are less human than my son?

As before, answering objections can help clear away bad arguments against the pro-life position.  Science is on our side and we need to make sure we establish that fact.  My next series of posts will focus on what makes the unborn valuable.

Go to part 9 here


[1] Scott Klusendorf, Life Training Institute (LFI)   http://www.prolifetraining.com/

[2] Illustration by Patrick Lee, Abortion and Unborn Human Life (Catholic University of America Press, 1996) pp. 91-94.

[3] Andrew Sullivan, “Only Human,” The New Republic, July 19, 2001.

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